Transparency and Accountability

Currently the NM Commissioner of Public Lands has virtually no mandated oversight or transparency even though he manages 9 million surface acres and 13 million acres of subsurface minerals worth billions of dollars. This needs to be immediately and permanently changed.

I began my campaign by calling out the historic “smoke filled back room” business culture of the Land Office and calling for mandating permanent new standards of transparency and accountability. As Commissioner, I will modernize the office, and its day to day business. The agency’s website should have an interactive map showing any and all agency business in real time. The agency must shine a light on its day to day business, while literally opening the doors of the office for greater public involvement and broad public engagement on the management of SLO resources.

The State Land Office and the Commissioner of Public Lands should be governed by a whole new set of transparency/accountability standards. These should be permanently changed through statute and rule and can be implemented in the first year in office.

As part of the permanent mandated accountability/transparency statute changes described above, the State Land Office should have real time reporting on any and all leasing, commercial transactions, and land swap/sales on the State Land Office website. Any citizen should be able to log on to the website and type in a key word or specific location and receive real time information of the State Land Office ongoing day-to-day business. The website should also have a statewide interactive map with waypoint pins featuring any relevant and ongoing agency business. The agency should also have a public computer bank with a State Land Office staffer in the office who helps citizens who come into the office easily find detailed information about specific tracts of state land.

The State Land Office should be required to hold public meetings and have a public comment structure (similar to the public input structure for national public lands) on development plans that have significant impacts on landscapes, communities, watersheds/aquifers, wildlife, or the environment.

Participatory government is also fundamental to my approach. Again, as part of my recommended transparency platform, I believe that public meetings and a public comment period similar to the decision making process of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forestry Service lands needs to be permanently put into place – through statute and rule making – for any and all significant development plans and or land swaps or sales by the State Land Office. Several other states also have a state based NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process and the Montana model – with some upgrades – could be an excellent model for New Mexico to follow.

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